Italy is officially the world’s largest producer of wine in the world and has 20 major wine producing regions containing over 900,000 vineyards. Indeed, there isn’t much of Italy that hasn’t been planted with grapes or olives. The Italians, much like the French are hugely protective and rightly proud of their wines and the differences of styles, grapes and winemaking techniques from vineyard to vineyard, sometimes within the same area, is staggering. Like France, Italy has had official classification of their wines since 1963 and the grape varieties allowed to be grown are restricted. In the decades following, a fine wine revolution followed in Italy with many winemakers ignoring the laws and releasing wines made from restricted international grape varieties – some won huge international acclaim and put modern Italian fine wine on the map. More recently, a balance has been restored with native Italian varietals being made according to the highest standards with some interesting and impressive results.
From all over Italy you can find amazing wine, some made to rustic, traditional methods and values whilst others are unashamedly modern, accessible and appealing to new wine drinkers. The finest examples are among the best in the world with red wine a clear leader over whites. The red wines of Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Valpolicella and Chianti are a testament to all that is good in Italian wine but many of the white wines are made as simple, gluggable, warm climate thirst quenchers which go well with food. The trailblazers of the Italian wine revolution are still there, as are many other prestige blends and vineyard specific limited production ‘superstar’ wines.
In order to better understand this great wine country we have split the country into 5 areas, all of which contain a number of significant wine producing regions.
The wines of Italy are graded as follows (best first): DOCG, DOC, IGT, Vino da TavolaClick on a region (above) to discover their wines